Some Frequently Asked Questions
What is your process?
Typically, authors will send me a PDF galley or manuscript of their book, along with a synopsis or description, as well as any ideas that they or their editor or publisher may have for the cover. If necessary, we’ll have a phone conversation and bat some ideas back and forth. At this stage I may also ask you to select among published book covers (including any from my portfolio) that have the sort of feel you want for your book.
Based on our discussions, cover examples, my instincts, or some combination of these things, I’ll create a dozen or so initial concept jpegs or “sketches.” Of these, I’ll share the ones I consider to be strongest, typically two or three. Once we both agree on a concept, with your input I’ll refine it until we both feel that it’s absolutely perfect.
From there I’ll go on to design the full cover (front, back, spine). To do so, I’ll need all necessary specifications and materials, including spine width (a template from the printer is recommended), bar code, publisher’s logo[s], author photo (if applicable), and all blurbs, descriptions, and other texts that are wanted on the book. All copy should be carefully proofread and final.
Along with a printer-ready PDF of the full cover, I’ll also provide you with several front-cover only jpegs to use in advertising and also for ePub and Kindle versions of the book.
I rarely use photographs on covers. But assuming you have photos that are of good quality and that I feel I can work with and that will result in a good cover, one that we can both be proud of, I’ll use them. As for illustrations or artwork, we can use anything that can be downloaded from the internet, is of high-enough resolution, and that’s either in the public domain or obtainable for a fee (that you’re willing to pay). Many of the illustrations you see on the covers in my portfolio are public domain.
How long will it take for you to design a cover for my book?
Usually, I’ll have a cover concept for you to review within the first 3–5 days of the project start date. Once you approve the concept, I’ll refine it with your input until we’re both satisfied. Once we both feel that the front cover is perfect, and once you give me all the materials I’ll need for the back cover (including finalized text, bar code, logo, and author’s photo (if desired), along with exact spine and dimensions and/or a template, I’ll get started on the full cover. Typically, the entire process takes between 3 and 4 weeks from start to finish.
How much does a cover cost?
A cover design for a paperback (without flaps) costs between $550 and $1,250. The difference depends on factors like difficulty of concept and also on whether the cover is for an individual, self-publishing author or for an independent or commercial publisher. For independent authors as well as for smaller presses, I try to keep my rates as low as possible.
If the cover design is for a hardcover book or for a paperback with French flaps, the cost will be between $150 and $200 more.
If all that’s needed is a front cover for an E-Book, then the price may be as little as $500.
Should I expect any additional fees?
Errors or last-minute alterations (changes in cover text or title) made by the client may incur additional fees. To avoid any such fees, please make sure any copy you give me is final and that it has been carefully proofread. Any mistakes I make will be corrected free of charge. Also, if a client chooses to use an illustration or art that isn’t in the public domain and requires a fee, that fee will be added to the charge. Special requests for fonts that aren’t in my library or available through Adobe’s Typekit may also incur an additional charge. (On rare occasions I may suggest such a font, but I will never force it on a client who does not wish to pay the extra cost.) If an extra fee is required, I will always let you know in advance.
Are your rates standard?
The general fee range for professional book cover design is $800-$1500. While many design firms offer lower rates, they also tend to offer inferior designs based on a library of templates. Each cover I design is entirely custom and unique.
Do you provide barcodes or ISBN numbers?
No. Usually you will obtain those from your publisher, or from bowkerbarcode.com.
Some book design terms defined:
The size of the trimmed (cut) front cover of your book.
How many pages long the book is—including all copyright, title, index, and blank pages.
The projected thickness of the spine of your printed book. This is calculated based on the final page count of the interior and the weight of paper to be used for printing. Printers will usually supply either the information needed to calculate the spine width, or the spine width itself. In some cases, printers will furnish a template for the full cover.
A diagram furnished by the printer or publisher of the full (front and back) book cover, showing all dimensions: including spine, front and back cover, flaps (if any), and desired bleed.
The amount of extra dimension/image (usually .125 inches) to allow for trimming the cover.
Resolution is the amount of detail that an image holds. Resolution can be measured in various ways. For printing purposes, typically, it is measured in pixels per inch. The greater the pixels-per-inch, the greater the detail or resolution. For printing purposes, at full size (the size at which it is to be printed), an image should be 300 pixels-per-inch.
RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue. RGB is how your computer screen displays color images. While RGB images may look great on-screen, they tend not to reproduce on paper with the same vibrancy as when viewed on a monitor.
The colors recommended for printing presses is CMYK, or Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. Together these four inks to achieve all arrays of colors needed for printing. Occasionally special inks may be used to achieve a certain effect. The most common color system used for specialty inks is Pantone. To print properly, all files destined for print should be converted from RGB to CMYK mode. That’s something I’ll take care of; you needn’t worry about it.
PRINT ON DEMAND (POD):
This method of printing allows for printing only as many copies of a book as are wanted—down to as few as only one. As with traditional printing, it may cost more to print fewer books. POD printing is often the best choice for self-published and indie authors who don’t want to end up storing boxes of books in their garage or basement.
ROYALTY FREE IMAGES, RIGHTS MANAGED IMAGES, LICENSING IMAGES:
Whenever possible, I try to use royalty-free images from stock sources. Royalty-free means that you won’t need to worry about paying additional fees for the images; the cost is included in the original quote. Now and then, I may discover a perfect image that costs money. In that case, I’ll show you the image, explain why I’ve chosen it, and let you know the extra cost and get your approval before I buy it. But that will only happen if I am unable to find suitable, royalty-free art to use for your project. Royalty rates may vary depending on several factors, including the size of the print run and whether your book will be published in one or many countries.